Saturday, September 01, 2007

August Reads

Since it's my birthday and the males are all in temper-tantrum mode, I've decided I'll just hide out and write up a review of my August reads. Okay, wait, update on that . . . the eldest son has arrived home with (so far) my one and only gift and it's a very nice one. He also came bearing pastry, so I'm feeling better. The photos tucked into the side of this post were all taken outside my home, yesterday. Nature was in motion. The new header starring "Gray Kitty" (a very sweet neighborhood cat) was also taken yesterday, on our driveway. She was watching the butterflies.

My August Reads:

1. Taking the Plunge by Stacie Lewis - A fictionalized retelling of a real-life bride's angst as she prepares for a Detroit wedding to a Welsh man. There's less culture clash than grown-up temper tantrums between the parents and step-parents. ARC read for Estella's Revenge - the full review should be up in a few days.

2. Lesley Castle by Jane Austen - Three stories written during Austen's teen years, humorous and displaying a surprising grasp of social interaction in a light-hearted style that made for lots of smiles. My top favorite of the month.

3. Truth or Dare by Melanie Atkins - A paranormal romantic suspense set in an antebellum mansion, the story contains a witch, a zombie, a trio of vengeful ghosts, and a hunky guy with a gun. R-rated, but the story is enjoyable for its setting and its uniqueness. Would make a great book for the RIP II.

4. The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom - A librarian travels to Northern Ireland to start a new job, but finds the library closed and the books missing. Not really so much a mystery as slapstick humor - terrific, light reading.

5. Life's a Beach by Claire Cook - A forty-something woman worries about the fact that she hasn't quite settled down or figured out what she loves doing and isn't sure whether her boyfriend is worth the effort. She has a sister anguishing over her upcoming 50th birthday and parents who are threatening to evict her from the apartment over their garage. Sometimes drags, but overall it's a pretty nice book with likable characters.

6. Voyage by Adele Geras - Historical young adult tale of life in steerage as passengers cross the Atlantic Ocean in search of new life in the United States. Review book for Estella's Revenge - full review should be posted in a few days. I liked it.

7. Shopaholic & Baby by Sophie Kinsella - Becky goes shopping for all the most useless (but cute) baby things, worries that her husband is having an affair with her doctor, and attempts to save the floundering store where she now works. Loved this one, after getting past the initial annoyance of all that shopping.

8. Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller - The friend of a teacher who has been caught having an affair with a 15-year-old student attempts to figure out what she was thinking by setting the events in logical order. Fascinating and well-written, very slow and thoughtful.

9. Everyman by Philip Roth - A man is buried and then the book reflects back on the deterioration of his health, his reflections about how he screwed up, and the loneliness that resulted. Thoroughly lacking in hope. I'm going to go back and put this one on my "not recommended" list; it's not worth the time. I'll give Roth another chance because the man can write, but this was the month's worst read.

10. Blizzard by George Stone - 1970's disaster story of a blizzard that won't end and the investigation into whether it was man-made - if so, who is responsible and how to stop it. Not a great deal of brain cells required, but well-crafted and intelligent, I thought. Makes for a great hot-weather brain break.

11. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson - Young adult historical fiction; the story of a young girl's experience during the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia. An excellent peek into the horror of an outbreak of disease at a time when its cause and proper treatment were not understood.

12. Monkey Love by Brenda Scott Royce - A hair-cutting, tax-preparing, typist-carpenter-comedian with a degree in primatology gets stuck babysitting a boa constrictor and a monkey, helping untangle her friends' love lives while trying to figure out her own and dealing with her crazy relatives. A really delightful, wacky, sweet, and unique story. I enjoyed this one thoroughly and gobbled it right down.

13. Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers - An ARC I found at the library, I expected something on the order of a cute, funny book in the vein of Meg Cabot's email books with a busy family leaving notes on the fridge. The book is, in fact, communication between a busy single mother and her daughter and it's both unsatisfying (too short - most pages contain only one brief note) and tremendously sad. In many cases, I found it difficult to believe that the two wouldn't bother to just talk to each other while they were going through a crisis. I'm not sure why anyone would publish a book like this; it seems pointlessly depressing. But, then, so does Everyman.

Overall, a terrific month. I read just over 3,000 pages. Kiddo talked me into watching a movie, last night, or I might have finished up the 14th book (God is My Co-Pilot). Hope to finish that one, tonight. I've also started reading Haunted Castles of the World by Charles Coulombe, my first read for the RIP II. I'll have to niche in a second book because Haunted Castles is best read in small doses. In fact, I think I'll go read right now. Grumpy husband has dashed off with eldest son and youngster has crashed. Methinks his week may have finally caught up with him.

May the rotten pears of your life be covered with beautiful butterflies.



  1. Happy birthday! Hope the rest of your special day is just that - special!

    Love the kitty pictures. You've given me a couple of book titles to add to my want-to-read list!

  2. Thank you, Lynne. It's improving a little - I think the youngster has hit the wall, so to speak. He had a long week and is crumbling.

    Isn't that a beautiful kitty? She's so photogenic. I hope you enjoy whichever titles you've added to your list. :)

  3. Happy Birthday! I hope hubby is being schooled by eldest son on birthday presents. The All Night Out can't be a b'day gift.

    Lesley Castle looks good, it's on my Look For list.


  4. Happy Birthday Nancy!!!!

    Why didn't I get it in my book-a-week email??

    Great pictures as usual and I am SO jealous you read 13 books last month! Very impressive!

  5. Carrie,

    Hubby redeemed himself by baking me a cake and allowing me to buy some new shoes (at the 75%-off Labor Day sale - cool price, too).

    Lesley Castle is so fun. I've got Emma on the bedside stacks and I'm hoping to squeeze it in, just4thehelluvit, between scary reads. It's like I have permission, now. :)

    Gray kitties are delightfully photogenic, aren't they?

  6. Carrie,

    I forgot to say thank you for the birthday wishes! Thank you!!!!

  7. Heather,

    Thank you! Not sure about the lack of message. It could be there was a point at which I didn't want to share my birthday because I had a little trouble with going past 40. Neither of my book lists have me down as an automated birthday girl.

    I've had such fun with the camera, since the buzzing, flapping things started to show up (and then the cat marched down the hill - she's the sweetest little thing). And, I've only gotten one fire ant sting! If you saw the quantity of stinging things, you'd be shocked. They're not interested in me, thank goodness! LOL

    And, thank you, again. I went very light - no way I would have finished 13 if I'd read anything that required brain power!

  8. Oh, Bookfool, boys are just silly! Maybe they're all having their period, so to speak. I'm glad you got pastry from one of them.

    I like how the header photo in your blog keeps changing; each one is so beautiful. You are quite the photographer.

    May your new year be full of blessings and joy.

  9. Bookfool:

    Happy, happy birthday, my dear. Thank you so much for bringing into this wonderful world of book lovers! I owe you big time for that. I hope your next year is filled with less heat and a trip to Australia!

    It's funny - I just did my own update of a sorts. I was feeling pretty good about reading 6 books in August... You've only read twice as many! Oh, heck. I still feel pretty good about it.

    I hope your day is (or was) perfect.


  10. Bellezza,

    Kiddo is fine, now that he got some rest. So funny. I knew he was going to crash at some point, but it's hard to predict exactly when. Sometimes, just getting to the weekend is permission to fall on your face, I think. :)

    Thank you! I've become an obsessive header-switcher. What I haven't done is switch the background colors. I tried and kept messing up, a while back, so I've decided to leave well enough alone!!!

    Thanks for the wishes. :)


    Thank you so much. I'm really glad you joined the bloggy world. Your blog is wonderful!! A low-heat year with a trip just about anywhere would be nice. Thanks for wishing that on me. :)

    Weeeell, I did sort of cheat by reading fluffy, easy-on-the-brain, short books, so my 13 probably took about half the mental concentration of your 6. You should be happy with whatever you read; you've got the right attitude.

    My day was kind of so-so. It improved when the husband made me a cake, the kiddo woke up feeling better (he was such a mess!) and I bought some shoes. Ah. That did it. :)

  11. Happy Birthday Nancy!!
    I'm glad your day got better with cake and new shoes. :P
    I love your new header pic, she's very photogenic!

  12. Happy Birthday! I'm a September baby too, although I still have a week to go.

    The kitty photos are adorable, Nancy.

    I will be reading Notes of a Scandal before the year is out and am looking forward to it. I haven't yet seen the movie, but will probably watch it once I get the book read.

    I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend, Nancy.

  13. Happy Birthday Nancy! :D I hope it was a good one for you. Glad to hear that your eldest came in for your birthday (and brought pastries ;)

    I love your new header! That's a great picture. Cool cat!

  14. I like the kitty pictures, well, all the new pictures. But the header with the gray cat watching the butterflies is beautiful. Your post made ME happy on your birthday. I hope the shoes are COMFORTABLE shoes. Heck, call Sunday your EXTENDED birthday and have a wonderful weekend, my friend.

  15. Happy Birthday! I'm glad things improved as the day went on.

    Love the photos. Such pretty cats! (or are they the same one?)

    I think I'm definitely going to try and track down Lesley Castle and Monkey Love, they sound like something I could get into right about now.

  16. Well....Happy Birthday!! I hope it turns out wonderful!

    I like the picture of the kitty. So cute!! ALMOST makes me want to run out and get a cat!!

    Looks like you had a fantastic month when it comes to books. With vacation, school starting, soccer starting, and football practice starting, I only got through 4 books this past month. I really need to get on the stick!

  17. Happy birthday to you,
    Happy birthday to you!
    Happy birthday, dear Bookfool,
    Happy birthday to you!

    And I'm never going to reach the end of my TBR list now! I don't know whether to be happy or sad about that!

  18. A Hap,Hap,Happy Birthday to you sweet Nancy, albeit a little belated! I hope you had a nice day yesterday and I hope you have a wonderful year ahead. Sending you all good wishes all the way from Canada! :)

    WHAT??? You read 13 books in August? I must have done four! What is wrong with me? Are you planning on watching "Notes on a Scandal"? I'd love to know how you compare the book with the movie. I was terribly disappointed with the movie, but not everyone was.

  19. Drat! I missed your birthday by a day! I hope it turned out to be a good one.

    Wow! You did have a great month of reading! I didn't read half that amount, but for once I was pretty happy with my quality and quantity (better than July, that's for sure!).

    Love the new header!

    Happy belated birthday, dear friend. If I lived closer, I'd take you out for lunch and bookshopping!

  20. Nat,

    Thank you! I'm glad the day improved, too. It really started out awful!! Today was even better, so I'm a happy camper. Isn't Gray Kitty lovely? She's very photogenic. And, thank you. I'm turning into one of those schizophrenic header-switchers. LOL Also, thank you very much for the links on how to resize photos. That's how I managed to get the kitty photo to fit so nicely. I appreciate the help!!!!

  21. Wendy,

    Thank you! And, early Happy Birthday greetings! September's a good month for birthdays, I think. There's the potential for a little bit of a cool breeze; it's a hopeful month. :)

    Isn't that kitty lovely? And, her personality nicely matches her looks. She's a sweetheart.

    Notes on a Scandal was one of those books that I thought about buying, put back, changed my mind and set down, picked up again (another day), put back, and finally decided to go ahead and order. I really wasn't interested in the movie, but now I am. I hope you like it. It's nicely thought-provoking without being over-the-top dreary, IMHO.

    And, thank you. The weekend improved dramatically! :)

  22. Chris,

    Thank you! My birthday started out awful, but improved as the day went on. Also, I decided that any books that arrived, this week, were officially declared birthday gifts (except for the one I handed to the eldest). That made it feel like a windfall. LOL

    Thanks. Gray Kitty is such a pretty cat and has a lovely personality, as well. I have loads of fun taking her picture (and talking to her, petting her, rubbing her tummy). You can imagine how much she loves to visit us. :)

  23. Bonnie,

    Thanks; I figured you'd like that kitty header, since you've been rotating so many cat photos, yourself. :) I'm glad it made you happy. Gray Kitty is incredibly photogenic!

    I'd already decided to extend my birthday in order to "fix" it, so to speak. That and declaring all books that arrived this week as birthday gifts (most were from Paperback Swap) lifted my mood.

    We went to Jackson and I tromped around in a pair of my new shoes, today. I got a little blistered, but not enough to call for bandages, so I think at least that pair will do great, once they're broken in. Admittedly, I took them off in Borders and walked around barefoot for a bit. I'm sure people thought I was a nut, but it felt good. LOL

  24. Bridget,

    Thanks so much! Both kitties are one and the same - the cat we call "Gray Kitty" because we don't know her name. I'm pretty sure I know who owns her, but not positive - she has no identification, but I know the cat-lover up the hill in passing (she used to work with my husband).

    Lesley Castle and Monkey Love are both what I would call "upper books". I smiled a great deal while reading them and highly recommend both. I love a book that makes me smile. :)


    Thank you! My birthday turned out okay, in the long run. I had to work at it, a little.

    Oh, go ahead - go get yourself a cat. You can blame me. :)

    I did have a terrific month, but only because I stuck with light, quick reads. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have finished a thing - the heat really does a number on my ability to concentrate.

  25. Tristi,

    Thank you! You have a beautiful voice. ;)

    Oh, sorry, am I corrupting you? I did read some really fun books, this month. I hope you like whatever it is I've persuaded you to add to your lists!

    Hi Lotus!

    Thank you. I had a terrific last-half-of-the-birthday. The first part sucked, but things improved when I went shoe shopping and David baked me a cake. I told him, last week, "All I want is a birthday cake, please." And, then I had to beg for it, yesterday, but I finally got that darned cake!! And, it was a very good one. :)

    Yes, 13 books! Light, fluffy books, for the most part - two were kind of bummers, but they were still light reads. I highly recommend going light when the heat is killing off neurons. I do plan to watch Notes on a Scandal - I'll probably see if the library has it, though, so it could be a while. When I do, I'll compare the two. I love doing that! :)

  26. Les,

    Thanks. :) My birthday was okay, in the end - not great, but not as awful as it started out! Poor Will was just a mess. He slept a long time, though, and woke up his normal, cheerful self.

    I was very happy with my reading in August. It helps to know what books are most palatable when it's hard to concentrate - I think everyone has their "brain break" reads. This was a decidedly light and fluffy month for me. :)

    Thank you, on the header. Isn't gray kitty pretty? We're very fortunate to have such friendly neighborhood cats.

    Oh, you're too sweet! I wish you did live closer! We'd have such fun. The thought definitely counts. :)

  27. Happy birthday, Nancy! I love this new header!

  28. Happy Birthday! Hope you have a wonderful day...or make that week. I think birthdays should last at least a week. Looks like you had a marvelous reading month last month!

  29. Robin,

    Thank you for both the birthday wishes and the comment about my new header. :)

    Gentle Reader,

    Thanks. I went out of my way to fix my birthday - it started out awful and I nudged it till I got it in shape. LOL It was a pretty good reading month, mostly because I let my experience rule me. When I can't concentrate (and the heat does that to me, always), I switch to reading light and short reads. It worked very well! :)

  30. I'm so glad your birthday had a happy ending. And the photos are fantastic.

    Thirteen books! I'm in awe.

  31. Framed,

    Thank you! They were all quick reads. :)

  32. Gah! I can't believe I missed telling you happy birthday! I'm a HORRIBLE net buddy. But, I hope it turned out to be a wondermous fantastic day filled with that pastry you mentioned. :D

    I REALLY wanna read Fever. I just added it to my shelfari and bookmooch wishlists so I won't forget about it.

  33. Andi,

    No, babe, you're a great net buddy. I just figured you were immersed in Estella (and perhaps being a teacher?). :)

    The pastry was okay. The cake was better. Don't tell eldest. I'm grateful for both - and it will likely show on the hips, soon.

    I'd send you Fever, but I think I might hang onto it for my mom. She's a history buff and I've been setting aside books for her to read when she's sitting at home alone, all miserable and pouty. She is not a happy camper, right now. Her radiation treatment is going on forever - 30 treatments in one spot and 18 in another. Ugh. What is there to do but read and pout, you know?

  34. Good Lord...I'd read and pout, too! Definitely send her the Fever book and all my good wishes. :)

    Cake! Just hearing the word makes me gain weight.

  35. Andi,

    Maybe she'll read it quickly and send it back. LOL Yeah, I think she has good reason to be fussy.

    The cake was really good. It's gone. I guess that means it's time to hop back on the Nordic Track. Darn.

  36. Oh no, you've given me a few to add to my insane TBR list! :)

    I like Shopaholic and Baby better than the last couple, myself. My favourite part was at the beginning when she ultrasounds her bladder - I laughed out loud!

  37. tinylittlelibrarian,

    It's really dangerous visiting the blogs of other bibliophiles. I understand. :)

    I thought Shopaholic & Baby was one of the better books of the series, too. I'd already forgotten about the ultrasound scene - that was great. Becky's a hoot.

  38. Brenda Scott Royce8:51 PM

    Your fabulous review of my book, Monkey Love, drew me to your site, but I had to say that I love your photographs! (I edit a zoo magazine, so I know great nature photography when I see it.) Great work... and thanks for the review!

  39. Brenda,

    Thanks for visiting my blog!! I'm glad you enjoyed the review of your book; it was such a delightful read. I've been planning to see if you've written any more books so thanks for the nudge. Of course, now I have another book to add to my impossibly huge wish list. :)

    You edit a zoo magazine? Cool! And, thank you! I love taking photos of animals (you probably knew that) and can't wait till it's cool enough for a zoo trip. We've had a long, hot summer.


Thank you for visiting my blog! I use comment moderation because apparently my blog is a spam magnet. Don't worry. If you're not a robot, your comment will eventually show up and I will respond, with a few exceptions. If a comment smacks of advertising, contains a dubious link or is offensive, it will be deleted. I love to hear from real people! I'm a really chatty gal and I love your comments!